In late summer, we went for a walk in the New Forest in England and had fun picking the blackberries that grew in the wild while watching the horses frolicking nearby. As I enjoyed the bounty of the sweet fruit planted by others perhaps many years before, I thought of Jesus’s words to His disciples: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for” (John 4:38).
I love the generosity of God’s kingdom reflected in those words. He lets us enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors, such as when we share our love for Jesus with a friend whose family—unbeknown to us—has been praying for her for years. I also love the implied limits of Jesus’s words, for we may plant seeds that we will never harvest but someone else may. Therefore, we can rest in the tasks before us, not being hoodwinked into thinking that we are responsible for the outcomes. God’s work, after all, doesn’t depend on us. He has all of the resources for a bountiful harvest, and we are privileged to play a role in it.
I wonder what fields ready for harvest are before you? Before me? May we heed Jesus’s loving instruction: “Open your eyes and look at the fields!” (v. 35).
Creator God, thank You for Your great generosity in entrusting us to do Your work. May I be alert to the opportunities to share Your good news.
We can reap what others have sown.
Context is significant for understanding the meaning of a passage in Scripture. The context for today’s passage gives some eye-raising information to the original reader. These verses follow the story of the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan, a people-group the Israelites hated.
Jesus’s words “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35) follow John’s statement that the people “came out of the town and made their way toward him” (v. 30). In other words, Jesus was telling the disciples that God’s harvest of people was right in front of them and from a group they would have least expected.
This is partly why Jesus says we reap what we have not worked for. The disciples had not worked for the harvest of Samaritans; indeed, they probably never would have dreamed of working for such a harvest. But our God is a great gardener and He grows fruit where we cannot.
How can you express your trust in God to bring a harvest where there doesn’t seem to be one coming? J.R. Hudberg